Mushroom Carbonara with Gruyere and Hazelnuts is a cozy 30 minute dinner with restaurant flavor. It might just become your favorite (almost) meatless meal!
This mushroom carbonara recipe takes the classic Italian pasta alla carbonara in a new direction while still maintaining the brilliant concept that has made the dish a favorite for generations. It’s a 30 minute meal that begins by frying guanciale (pig jowl) or pancetta in a skillet, then tossing in hot pasta with a beaten egg and aged cheese mixture. This, with the help of a little starchy cooking water, becomes a silky sauce that clings to the pasta in a very luxurious way. No wonder it’s everybody’s favorite late night meal.
pasta alla carbonara history
Pasta carbonara has a fuzzy history, no one is quite sure how or when it originated, but interestingly it’s not super old ~ the first published recipe for it, according to Italy magazine, was in 1954. That recipe called for, wait for it…gruyere cheese! (So nobody can complain that my recipe isn’t traditional, lol.)
gather your ingredients
This idea was inspired by Jamie Oliver, who recently made a mushroom carbonara. While I didn’t end up using his recipe, he’s always an inspiration!
- I’ve used fettuccine, but spaghetti or linguine will work, too. I’d stick to a strand style pasta for this dish.
- baby bellas or button mushrooms are easy because your supermarket carries them, but feel free to get creative with other varieties.
- fresh sage
- a lovely fall herb that doesn’t see enough action, if you ask me.
- toast them first for intense flavor. I do this right in the microwave, instructions below. Don’t even think about adding raw hazelnuts to your pasta!
- guanciale (pig jowl) or pancetta bacon is traditional. Leave it out for a vegetarian dish.
- gruyere cheese
- a departure from traditional? Maybe not! The earliest printed recipe for carbonara called for it.
- you’ll use mostly yolks and one whole egg. The white from the whole egg gives the sauce the perfect texture. Egg whites can curdle, though, so no more than one.
cream in your carbonara?
There’s no cream in carbonara ~ the ‘creamy’ sauce is the result of an emulsion created by agitating (tossing) the eggs, cheese, and hot starchy water.
how to make mushroom carbonara
- Cook pasta in plenty of well salted pasta water. Be sure to reserve some to make the silky sauce!
- Fry chopped pancetta in a large skillet until crisp. (If you want to go meatless, maybe use garlic and olive oil.)
- Add mushrooms and sage to the pan and cook until the mushrooms are browned. Toss the hazelnuts into the pan.
- Whisk eggs in a bowl and blend in cheese. Loosen with a little hot pasta water.
- Add dripping wet pasta to the pan and toss to combine.
- Off the heat, add the egg and cheese mixture and toss vigorously, adding hot pasta water as needed to get a glossy sauce that clings to the pasta.
- Serve asap with more cheese and toasted hazelnuts.
tips for carbonara pastas
- Hold off on adding any extra salt to your dish until you taste it ~ the pancetta, cheese and salted pasta water are probably enough.
- I like a high ratio of mushrooms to pasta, but you can easily add more pasta to stretch your servings.
- What about using shaped pastas? I don’t recommend it, the silky carbonara sauce clings to the long strands perfectly. Why mess with perfection?
- If you don’t love fresh sage (it’s an acquired taste) use fresh parsley instead.
- You can use other hard cheeses in place of gruyere ~ Parmesan or Romano are traditional.
- Add a little spice with red pepper flakes, add them when sautéing the mushrooms.
- For a vegetarian carbonara, leave out the pancetta ~ you might use truffle oil to replace the rendered fat!
- If you do get a bit of a scrambled egg texture to your sauce (been there, done that,) don’t worry, it will still taste amazing. One of my favorite recipes is my Breakfast Pasta Carbonara which leans into the scrambled eggs 🙂
more easy pasta dinners
- Pasta with Radicchio, Bacon, and Walnuts
- Giada’s Lemon Spaghetti ~ a no cook sauce!
- Spaghetti Peperonata with Tuna and Olives
- Kale and Pancetta Pasta with Lemon and Garlic
- Easy Pasta Bolognese Recipe
- Farfalle with Salmon, Lemon, and Peas
Mushroom Carbonara with Gruyere and Hazelnuts
- Cook pasta to al dente, reserving about 1 cup of pasta cooking water.
- Meanwhile in a large skillet, add the olive oil and pancetta. Cook until the pancetta is crispy.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the egg. Add the grated gruyere cheese.
- Add the mushrooms and sliced sage to the pan and continue to cook until the mushrooms are lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
- To assemble, add the hot pasta and the toasted hazelnuts to the pan with the mushrooms and the pancetta and toss to combine.
- Whisk a little of the hot pasta water into the egg and cheese mixure to temper and loosen it. Off the heat, pour the egg and cheese mixture into the skillet and toss everything quickly to avoid scrambling the egg. Add anywhere from 1/4 cup to 1 cup of reserved pasta water as you're tossing to create a silky sauce that clings to the pasta.
- Serve immediately topped with more grated cheese. So good 🙂